Benefits of Having Friends in Older Ages: Differential Effects of Informal Social Activities on Well-Being in Middle-Aged and Older Adults
Huxbold, O and Miche, M and Schuz, B, Benefits of Having Friends in Older Ages: Differential Effects of Informal Social Activities on Well-Being in Middle-Aged and Older Adults, Journals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 69, (3) pp. 366-375. ISSN 1079-5014 (2014) [Refereed Article]
Objectives. It has been considered a fact that informal social activities promote well-being in old age, irrespective of
whether they are performed with friends or family members. Fundamental differences in the relationship quality between
family members (obligatory) and friends (voluntary), however, suggest differential effects on well-being. Further, agerelated
changes in networks suggest age-differential effects of social activities on well-being, as older adults cease
emotionally detrimental relationships.
Method. Longitudinal representative national survey study with middle-aged (n = 2,830) and older adults (n = 2,032).
Age-differential effects of activities with family members and friends on changes in life satisfaction, positive affect (PA),
and negative affect (NA) were examined in latent change score models.
Results. In the middle-aged group, activities with friends and families increased PA and life satisfaction and were
unrelated to NA. In the older age group, family activities increased both PA and NA and were unrelated to changes in life
satisfaction, but activities with friends increased PA and life satisfaction and decreased NA.
Discussion. Social activities differentially affect different facets of well-being. These associations change with age.
In older adults, the effects of social activities with friends may become more important and may act as a buffer against
negative effects of aging.
Social Relations, Older Adults, Latent Change Modelling